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The Johannesburg Compass – Questions & Orientations

Here is the outcome of the Johannesburg Conference, the Johannesburg Compass. Please share your comments and thoughts with us so that we can provide feedback to the process while it is more widely opened to the public so that our vision, learning and linking process can continue. 

The original blog post with comments from the participants and translations in other languages is available here


          Towards a world citizens movement


The Johannesburg Compass: Questions and orientations

1. Who are we?

As citizens, global and local, and participants of the ‘Building a Global Citizens Movement Johannesburg Conference 2013’, we acknowledge our responsibility for the planet and for humanity and we take responsibility for our individual and collective actions. Collectively, we acknowledge that to reach a just and sustainable world which does not maintain the systems of global oppression, but act to create the change we want to see in the world. We have the power and capacity to drive change. Change that is both personally transformative aiming to de-colonise our minds, and visible within collective, community and political actions. And realising that this is a difficult and sometimes painful process for many of us.

Together, in humility, we started a journey of transformation and developed a common vision that we believe will drive a fundamental shift in our world, the way we work in our organisations, and within our societies.  In humility, we know that we don’t have all the answers, that we have and many questions. And that we are aware that we should find new ways of expressing our politics and therefore this is not a Declaration but a Question we pose to ourselves and the world.

As change agents we  started an experiment of  finding new ways of cooperation among citizens .

2 What is our shared vision for the planet and humanity?

Together, we believe in a world built on the principles of Global Justice and Global Citizenship and on various principles of indigenous wisdom such as Ubuntu, Buen Vivir and Neighbouring through a multilingual approach which allows the full expression of those ideas.

A world built on mutual respect and equality in our shared humanity where we recognise and accept our differences. A world whose social and economic systems further the well-being of all people, while not undermining the planet and future generations. We aspire to reclaim, protect and nurture our commons and respect the rights of other living creatures on our planet.

What is global justice? We believe global justice means equal rights for all including future generations, through access to resources, knowledge and decision making. This means that the earth´s natural environment, ecosystems and knowledge are common property, and should be managed for the common good.

What is global citizenship? We believe global citizenship means that all people have access to participate and influence in a world democracy. The essence of global citizenship is built upon the involvement of different groups within decision making. Global citizenship means that rights should be the same for all peoples and responsibilities that are proportionate to their possibilities. The right of freedom of movement and settlement for everybody has to be respected.

6. What is our commitment to act?

We believe that global change will come about when citizens start acting themselves and that is what we will do in this journey and beyond. We will deepen our discussions after this conference and continue the learning and linking.

As first steps on this journey, several of us are taking initiatives that will:

* A new way of communicating that speaks from the hearts and not only the minds, connecting people through many forms of communication such as story-telling and art.

* To start developing a possible concept of a world democracy that would not lead to replicate current oppressive systems and inequality.

* Start a process as citizens to develop new ways to safeguard the global resources as common resources, possibly through establishing a Global Trust.  

*  To re-democratise our organisations to be the change we want to see in the world.

*   Not to speak for the most excluded, the most isolated, the most impoverished but and ensure they can participate fully at every level of our movement so they can speak for themselves.

*   To establish a global mechanism whereby activists can learn from each other. Global communities can share reflections on change processes and the demands of global justice.

* To build bridges between civil society networks and engage with other partners such as trade unions.

* To organise 3 global action days on 3 brurning issues  together


We will take these questions and considerations as one part of our learning journey together in building a global citizens movement. Together we will continue the discussions how to implement the commitments, linking our actions together.The questions and considerations are an open invitation to participate and to learn together and a living document, and we will revise it through the participatory open process in the next years.

Discussion (6)

  1. This is what we contributed before the conference to put the commons on the radar and offer the idea of a commons logic as underlying logic for the movement:

    We also held a one hour side event: How can the Commons help build a Global Citizens Movement?

    I will post a report on the conference soon!

    We can also discuss here ideas on the follow-up of the conference and the process itself as I am part of the group that will discuss the next steps.

  2. Profile photo of Bruce Nappi Bruce Nappi says:



    Are you aware of the Fellowship for Intentional Community? This organization has been the major supporter of commons communities around the world since at least the early 70's. Their current index lists 2433 communities. I was an active member during the 70's and 80's. One of the major problems we struggled with was keeping the communities together when their founders either died or left the community. The failure rate was very high. The lessons learned going through that experience were profound. Understanding and mitigating the failures has been a focus of my life since then. I’ve made major discoveries that can address the problems, which are not know by society. This is what I hoped to contribute when I joined CAN. So, please help me understand how to present these discoveries. Without the knowledge I’ve found, I’m afraid your efforts will be doomed to repeat the failures of the past.



  3. Dear Bruce,

    Thank you for joining our network! I am sure we can benefit greatly from the experience you bring in, that you mention in your post.

    We hope to feature lessons learned and the like in the NORA knowledge base (which you can access from the page header from any page on the website), as well as links to further information, i.e., relevant organizations and online publications, as well as print publications. One of the pages that is not there yet is on "community solidarity;" perhaps we can talk about what should go onto that page? There's also a page which already has substantial content but that could be further improved (and more detailed pages could be added) on participation in economic and political decision-making ( Perhaps you could look at this page and offer suggestions for improvement?

    Thanks again for your involvement,


  4. Dear Bruce,

    I did not know about FIC, it seems there's a great commonality with what we are doing and in particular with the NORA and Wolfgang's research on abundance and the commons (not sure if you know he published a book on the Economy of Abundance)

    Also, I agree the issues of failure you are talking about are very pervasive. Because there's a form of 'double bind' here where a community needs a leader/founder/driver to get it to a certain stage/threshold, but then, there needs to be some built in 'self-maturation' and self attraction pull process/mechanism otherwise when the 'few individual drivers' disappear, nobody's left aboard to keep the flame burning. I also observed that when there are a few leaders around, things are held together and getting done, but voices rise up to denounce autocracy. I think I understand what you mean but I haven't formalized it yet, so I'm very interested in collaborating and exploring your discoveries and how they can help others. Especially because while this present Johannesburg project seems on a halt, I am having other discussions with othe people about networks of networks, and alliances.

    How about we create a project group on Collaborating across networks and communities, and open a document where you can share your discoveries?


  5. Profile photo of Bruce Nappi Bruce Nappi says:

    Helene, Wolfgang,

    Thanks for your welcoming thoughts. CAN now has 125 active members. There are 18 project groups. One of my lessons learned is that early on in an organizations development, keeping as many people as possible in the general discussion is important. Otherwise, groups turn into separate efforts and people lose contact with each other and the overall effort. Maybe you can open a document for me in an existing group such as Commons as Complex Living Systems or Communicating the Commons. What I’ve discovered addresses “complexity” and organizational issues, but also addresses getting various movements to “relate to each other”, tying commons logic to individual action, convergence etc. I’ll pick a “high need” topic area and focus on that. Wolfgang’s suggestion about the “participation” page in NORA is also a good example. I’ll read that and make comments to get started.

  6. Bruce,

    That's what I think too better to concentrate adjacent things in one place. You are welcome to open a document on the communicating commons group. This is where we will be dealing with the pattern language wich will definitely need some complexity skills. Not sure if you saw this doc:

    There's this presentation related to it also that touches on systemic stuff:

    I expect more traffic around this after we come back from a workshop at Indiana University in a month. Creating a document is very easy. And I can assist you in case of problem.

Comment posting has been disabled on this doc.

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